Like many people, I have recently read the comments by psychiatrist Dr Mike Shooter in relation to children and autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and also Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
Statements like this do not help families who are struggling to get a diagnosis. Currently I am visiting the North East this weekend and Daisy Chain’s CEO shares the waiting time is currently 4 years in Stockton on Tees.
In my opinion it seems Dr Shooter is passing on his expertise to the world at the same time he has published a book.
I have not read his book only articles published in recent national newspapers. His message is that, although he does not deny the existence of ASD and ADHD, he does suggest (amongst other things) that that these diagnoses are used as a badge of honour and/ or a shield to protect failing parents from criticism.
Anyone familiar with disability will likely have heard these criticisms before. What is not clear to me is what the real benefits of Dr Shooter’s badge and shield are. It may be useful to remind Dr Shooter that, in relation to both children and adults, a diagnosis doesn’t confer any benefits. In the education of children and young persons, special educational needs are what matters; a diagnosis of itself is not relevant.
Our legal advisor from our charity shares that when it comes to adults, to be given the benefits contained in the Equality Act 2010, a person must have a disability which complies with the definition contained in section 6 – known as a statutory disability. A diagnosis is not required, and this has been the case for a few years now.
That said, if a diagnosis is given and the impairments identified clearly indicate the existence of special educational needs and/ or a statutory disability, clearly the diagnosis has a practical benefit to the patient that goes beyond Dr Shooter’s “badge and shield”. In summary, I suggest anyone who reads Dr Shooters comments and is irritated they should remind themselves of the above. If Dr Shooter wants to know more about the relevant legal framework (and let’s face it – that’s what really matters) he is welcome to contact our charity, and we can take him through it.
Anna Kennedy OBE